Gulfport landmark projects taking shape

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Two Gulfport landmarks destroyed by Katrina are being restored. Replicas of Grass Lawn and the historic courthouse on Courthouse Road are both well under construction.

Gulfport's mayor is happy to see these "postcards of the future" taking shape.

"So many people have had events here. Anniversaries. Reunions. And of course it's known for its wedding receptions," said Mayor Brent Warr, as he inspected the progress at Grass Lawn.

The mayor expects many more memories will be made at the new Grass Lawn, now under construction.

"We had a copy of the 1836 blueprint. So, we are going to build it back essentially the way it was. Of course, it will be a lot more comfortable now 'cause it will have central air conditioning," he said.

The landmark home just off the water will include plenty of space for community gatherings and special events. Spacious bedrooms upstairs could be used by VIPs.

"Say, if the President were to come visit, we could allow him to stay at Grass Lawn," said Mayor Warr.

The federal government is paying for the million dollar restoration.

"I keep using the word iconic, because it's described as iconic. If you will recall, the front of Grass Lawn is actually on the city's seal. That's how important it is," he said.

Another landmark restoration is taking shape on Courthouse Road just north of the water front: The Old Courthouse.

"It is a total recreation. And we're putting it back as it was before the storm. However, we're turning it where the front of the building faces Courthouse Road," said the mayor, " We expect it to be finished in November, maybe before. And the brick on the front of the building will be the original brick. We saved the old brick from the old courthouse."

Finally, there's the old VA property. Buildings there are being restored and the mayor envisions perhaps a hotel and conference center on the prime piece of property.

"We're building today the postcards of the future. That should be something that people send around and say, 'Hey, I stayed in this hotel on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Gulfport. You should go see it.'  We think it will be every bit that fine," said Mayor Warr.

Another City of Gulfport project about to get underway is the new community center on Dedeaux Road. Construction of that $5 million facility is expected to begin sometime next month. The 12,000 square foot center will be finished in just over a year.

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